Ear Stretching For Beginners – A Complete Guide

Girl with Stretched Ears
Girl with Stretched Ears

You have most likely seen many people with their ears stretched in recent times.

This ancient form of body modification has made a massive comeback. What was once done for religious and traditional is now used as a form of self-expression and an form of body art.

If you have made the decision to go ahead and stretch your ears, you are going to need to know the correct procedure. Stretching your lobes too fast or too big can cause permanent damage to the skin.

Follow this guide to ear stretching for beginners to make sure you are doing it right and not causing yourself any unnecessary damage.

What you need

You can buy complete ear stretching kits with all the items you need. This is usually the cheapest way and can actually save you good money.

If you want to buy the pieces separately then

here is the list of you will need:

  • Oil or lubricant
  • Steel or titanium tapers. No not use acrylic or any organic materials for stretching. Same applies to plugs.
  • No-flare or single-flare plugs
  • Anti-bacterial non-scented and non-alcoholic soap
  • Saline solution. You can make your own from sea salt and warm water or purchase on the web or from your piercer.
  • PTFE or plumber’s tape or bondage tape (this is only needed for stretching to larger sizes)

Make sure you buy your stretching supplies from a reputable source. Also do not use tapers or plugs which have been used by someone else already.

Once you have acquired all the bits and bobs you need you may continue.

Know your gauge sizes

Ear gauging jewelry sizes are measured in Gauges, which range from 20g as the smallest and 00g as they largest. Anything of a larger size than that would be measured in inches or millimetres.

If you are serious about ear stretching you should probably learn the different Gauge sizes.

This will really help you to understand and follow each step of the process as closely as possible.

Here is a chart I made to help you out with learning your gauge sizes:

Accurate Ear Gauge Size Chart
Accurate Ear Gauge Size Chart

Ready to get stretching? Here we go then!

Step #1: Figure out your gauge size

Think back to when you got your ears pierced. Was it done with a gun or a needle?

If you got your ears pierced with a gun then your current gauge size would be between 20g and 18g, in this case you should start on a 16g. If a needle was used to pierce your ears, your current gauge would be 16g and you can begin your stretching with a 14g.

Word of advice: If your ear piercing is not completely healed then you should not begin stretching until it is!

Also, wash your hands before you start.

Step #2: Prepare your ear

You need to smother your ear in oil or lube. I recommend you use Jojoba oil, Holey Butt’r or surgical grade lubricants. Any one of these can work well.

Do NOT use any water based lubricants as they can hold bacteria. This includes vasoline and lotion.

Apply the same lube or oil to the taper you will be using. This will help prevent friction between your ear and the taper. Friction can cause pain and other problems.

Step #3: Time to stretch that lobe!

This is the bit you’ve been waiting for!

Now all you need to do is take your lubed up taper and just gently insert it, smaller end first. It should slide in with ease. Keep pushing it until you get to the thickest part. Once it is all the way through to the thickest part,

Do not force it or rush it! Just take your time and pay attention to any signals your body gives you. It might sting a bit but if the pain gets too much you should stop immediately. Severe pain is not normal and may imply that your ear is not ready for stretching.

Step #4: Insert your plug

Tapers are not suitable for day to day wear, they are designed to be used as tools only due to the weight of them, which could cause damage to the skin.

To replace your taper with your plug:

  1. Align your plug up directly with the thick end of your taper, like it is an attachment.
  2. Once you have pushed the taper in up to the thickest part you will want to continue to push until it comes out the other end.
  3. You should still be holding the plug attached to the end of the taper, the plug should go in as the taper comes out.
  4. Repeat the process for your other ear.

Hopefully you are happy with the plugs you have chosen. If not you will just have to get used to them. You will be leaving these plugs in your ears for at least a month before moving on to the next gauge size.

Step #5: Aftercare

If you have performed your stretch correctly, there should be no need for any immediate aftercare.

A couple  of days after the stretch you can massage your ear with a small amount of the oil you used for the stretch. This will help to stimulate blood flow to your ear lobe, therefore assist the healing process.

Do NOT apply alcoholic solutions to your ear as it can cause irritation and slow the healing.

Whilst your ear is healing there should be no bleeding and very little pain. You may feel a slight stinging or tingling sensation, which is not a cause for concern.

If you notice any more serious symptoms, remove the jewelry instantly. Return to you previous gauge size.

Get your timing right

You should wait at least a month before attempting to step up to your next size.

In the mean time, after a couple of weeks you can try out different plugs in your current size. Have some fun with it! You can get some really cool plugs for any size.

Questions and Answers

What is the point of no return?

This is a commonly debated subject but most body modification experts agree that most people can get away with stretching up to a 2 to 0g without permanent damage. Once you stretch your ears beyond 2g to 0g it becomes more difficult for you ears to return to their normal size.

This may vary a bit from person to person. Afterall, everyone’s body works differently!

Also, if you skipped sizes and stretched too fast it will be less likely that you ears return to normal.

Have I got an infection?

If you take your time when stretching your ear and care for it properly the likelihood of infection is very low. It is perfectly normal to experience some redness and swelling whilst a freshly stretched ear is healing.

If your symptoms are worsening or last for more than a week,  this may be a sign that your ear is getting infected.

Some of the symptoms to watch out for are:

  • Severe pain, redness or swellin, symptoms that persist for more than a week or worsen.
  • Oozing yellow, green or grey puss or foul smelling fluids.
  • Fever like symptoms such as weakness, dizziness or nausea.

If you happen to experience any of these symptoms you should seek medical help immediately. The infection could cause long-term damage to the skin or worse, spread to other parts of the body.

What types of ear stretching jewelry are there?

About two weeks after your last stretch you can start safely experimenting with different jewelry.

Flared ear plug
Flared ear plug

There are many types of jewelry available here are some of the main types:

  • Tunnels – When tunnels are worn in a stretched ear you are able to see through the ear lobe. These are more common in larger gauge sizes. These are held in place by two O-rings
  • Single flared Earlets – Similar to a tunnel except they are held in place with an O-ring on one side and a flare on the other side.
  • Double flare earlets – Do not come with O-rings. Held in place by a flare at each end.
  • Plugs – The solid, non-see through option. Held in place by O-rings, much like Tunnels are.
  • Flared plugs – Solid piece of jewelry which is kept in the hole via a flare at each end.


I know stretching your ears properly may feel like a slow process.

At least this way you won’t get a nasty infection though!

When you do achieve your goal gauge size you will be proud of yourself for doing it properly. If you rush the process you will end up with a deformed ear and a head-full of regret!

If you have any more questions, feel free to ask in the comments.

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21 Comments on Ear Stretching For Beginners – A Complete Guide

  1. Wow this has really made me cringe… I landed on this site looking for earrings and I didn’t expect this at all LOL. Still very interesting fashion statement. Tell me, does this sort of thing hurt? I cringe just looking at it but surely it can’t be that bad right if so many people are doing it?

    • It’s actually not as painful as it looks or sounds, well that’s if the ear stretching process is done properly. If not done properly then yes it can be very painful.

      That’s why I made this post though, to prevent people from having to experience pain whilst stretching their ears.

  2. Hey, this one really caught me by surprise 🙂 It’s not in my interest to try this but I understand there is a huge market for stretching ears… This is very nicely explained, I have never read anything about that ever, which is incredible. I’m a big time reader and searcher for all types of interesting stuff. Good one here, I hope people find this as useful as I did.

  3. Thanks for lots of details. This is probably not something I would ever do in my lifetime, but it’s certainly a fashion that’s popular for a lot of people. I am sure these instructions will help so many people who are confused about the process and maybe even afraid of the process to make better and more informed decisions.

  4. I have to be honest this kind of ear piercing isn’t for me at all, but my grandson is considering it after many and heavy talks not to do it.

    By researching for possible failures when doing so I came along your site and what I am reading in your article is well done if I may say so.

    I have forwarded your site to my grandson so he can read for himself what to do and how to do it.

    Still hoping though he won’t do it. Call me old fashioned.

    • Hi Sylvia.

      If your Grandson has decided he wants to stretch his ear then at least you can know that he is doing it correctly and safely.

      I hope my article will be of help.

      Thanks for reading.

  5. Hi Hannah, like Chris above I can honestly say I cringe at the very thought of ear stretching. However, my niece has asked me to buy her something along these lines for her birthday. She is a bit of a free spirit and is away studying at the moment – I was thinking of some normal earrings but these would really impress her! Although I don’t think her mother would be too impressed!!

    • Hey Boyo.

      To each their own haha. Ear stretching is perfectly safe and as long as you don’t go too big it can return to near enough normal.

      Nice one mate thanks for stopping by!

  6. I’ve wanted guages for a while now, but for some reason i never really got around to it properly, I’d gotten to about 12 guage, stopped wearing cause I was trying to look for for a job, and ended up loosing them (oops). I’m still unemployed but I’d consider getting them done again maybe

    • Hi there.

      I’d say go ahead and gauge your ears – it’s your body after all!There are plenty of companies which will still employ you with gauged ears. Maybe not stretch too big so you can hide them for interviews (using flesh coloured earplugs).

      Thanks very much for your input. Be lucky!


  7. Oh wow, ear stretching! I see a lot of people who do this, both young and old and never understood how, why, or the reason behind it. I see its a big fashion sense for people who like it.
    I read through your post and I find it intriguing and informed on the processes. Even though I wouldn’t be able to do this in my life time, I hope people who like this can visit your page first before attempting it. Well detailed.

    • Hey Kelly.

      Ear stretching certainly has grown in popularity over the past few years. So much care needs to be taken whilst stretching the ears (or any piercing for that matter) and I felt it was very important to make this information readily available for those who need it.

      I’m very grateful for you taking your time to read my post and leave a comment.

  8. Hi Hannah,
    I have seen people who have stretched their ears to the point that they have these giant holes in their lobes that hang down and almost touch their shoulders. I assume this is the incorrect way to gauge your ears as there probably is no returning to normal after this. Now when you say returning to normal, is it possible for the lobe to heal up to the point that the gauged ear wouldn’t even be noticeable as a gauged ear? Is it like piercings that can close back up over time?

    • Hey Jessica.

      If someone has stretched their ears to more than 00G (10mm or 3/8″) they have simply gone way too far. Even if their stretching technique was perfect, they will have crossed the “point of no return”. Ears stretched to a sensible size of up to 00G (10mm or 3/8″) can be shrunk back down to their original size.

      Thanks very much for checking out my site.

  9. Oh wow Hannah, thanks for this information. I have always wondered how this was done. It is not for personally but I have so often seen people with stretched lobes and wondered about the process.
    I always assumed this was permanent, meaning if you stretched your ears they won’t go back to normal but you made a few references to ears going back to normal? Can you clarify this for me please?

  10. I can say with certainty that this is something that I’ll never do. I’m sorry but I do not find it aesthetically pleasing. But your article will be of help for those who want it done so they will know the process and make an informed decision. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Thanks a lot for this.

    I had my ears stretched out a loooong time ago, and when I was young we never really referred to the guage, just the mil size. The conversion chart will come in really handy as nowadays I get all confused going to buy new tunnels ha.

    Also, coz of a tearing accident, one of my tunnels is a bit scarred and more difficult to stretch than the other side. Do you have any recommended way of easing the process for that ear? I’d like to keep them matching.

    • No problem Matt!

      Go easy when stretching your damaged ear. Just take extra care. This is going to sound crazy, but try using haemorrhoid cream (preparation H) to soften and heal the hardened scar tissue. Always use vitamin E oil or jojoba/coconut oil to lubricate the taper and your ear when you stretch. Wait a good month between stretches too (I know it seems long but it’s better than having a sore and deformed ear!)

      Hope this helps somewhat!


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  1. How to Close Stretched Ears Fast – The Non-Surgical & Safe Method | Professional Piercing Kits
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